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How to set goals (that actually work)



  • The bar gets set either too high or too low and the entire process becomes self-defeating.
  • BHAGs (aka Big Hairy Audacious Goals)
  • BHAGs have the following attributes: * 50-70% of success * 10-30 year horizon * Requires vision (over tactics and strateg
  • how goals help you:
  • Direct attention: They focus your effort toward goal-relevant activities and away from goal-irrelevant activities. * Get energized: Having goals lets you direct more effort towards their completion. * Plan deliberately: Individuals develop strategies that enable them to attain goals.
  • Planning: You download a training schedule (planning) * Execution: You start running * Accountability: There’s a social penalty for not completing them
  • The case AGAINST goals
  • They are at odds with long-term progress * They restrict your happiness * They rob you of the present moment * They set you up for self-judgement * They are arbitrary
  • many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after accomplishing a goal.
  • to the when-then trap, which mistakenly says “Once I achieve [X] then I’ll be happy.”
  • Making happiness contingent on future success is one of the devastating effects of the hedonic treadmill.
  • When you have one foot in the future and the other in the past, you piss on the present.
  • we end up subconsciously pissing on the present.
  • A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.
  • The goal in any sport is to finish with the best score, but it would be ridiculous to spend the whole game staring at the scoreboard.
  • The only way to actually win is to get better each day.
  • if you trust your inputs (focus, kindness, self-accountability, habits, a growth mindset) the outputs should take care of themselves.
  • One approach is to turn outcome goals into process goals.
  • An outcome goal is binary, measurable and time-bound such as: * Grow my newsletter audience by 5,000 readers * Lose 10 pounds * Generate $250,000 in annual sales
  • A process goal is non-binary, iterative and ongoing: * Send two newsletters every week * Work out for 45 minutes five times a week * Make three sales calls each day
  • And did you notice how our goals sneakily became habits?
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